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MPs to review BBC’s local radio cuts as concerns mount about the future of BBC Introducing

By | Published on Friday 11 November 2022


The UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee has announced a session next month that will put the spotlight on the cuts being made at the BBC to its local radio output in England. It comes as concerns mount in the music community regarding the impact those cuts could have on the BBC Music Introducing initiative.

Needing to find significant savings as a result of the UK government’s decision to freeze the licence fee, BBC bosses recently announced plans to reduce the amount of content made by its network of local radio stations. Basically, for chunks of the day, local stations in each region of the country will broadcast the same programmes, while at 10pm each weekday the same late night show will air across the whole network.

The cutbacks at the BBC’s local radio stations will be accompanied by an expansion of the broadcaster’s local news content online, which BBC bosses say demonstrates that they remain committed to providing good local services around England. However, the cutbacks are likely to result in around 48 jobs being lost.

Confirming that the DCMS committee will be reviewing the changes to the BBC’s local output, its chair Julian Knight MP says: “The planned cuts to programming have provoked genuine disquiet in communities up and down the country, where BBC local radio stations play a key role in providing local information that is increasingly unavailable elsewhere”.

“As a public service broadcaster”, he added, “the BBC must always have an eye on its duty to offer a distinct service and the committee will be questioning corporation bosses to make sure they have properly thought through the implications of moving towards a more regional model and concentrating on digital services. Any changes must be in the best interests of listeners and licence payers”.

Within the music community, particular concerns have been expressed regarding what the cuts will mean for the BBC Music Introducing initiative which, of course, is centred on the various BBC Introducing shows that air on the Beeb’s local stations, each one championing a local music scene and new artists emerging within it.

The host of BBC Introducing in Sussex and Surrey, Melita Dennett, this week confirmed on Twitter that all BBC Introducing presenters and producers are now on redundancy notice. She also expressed concern that the proposed changes will result in BBC Music losing the local connections that have been key to the success of the BBC Introducing scheme.

She wrote: “You may have heard about proposed cuts to BBC local radio which will seriously impact BBC Introducing and our connection to grassroots emerging artists, local venues, promoters and audiences. BBC Introducing is a valuable platform where artists can get their music directly heard at the BBC, with no agents or middlemen involved”.

“The proposed cuts are savage, merging existing broadcast areas into incoherent blobs”, she added. “It’s the localness of what we do that’s its strength. BBC Introducing builds relationships not only with artists, but venues, promoters, audiences. And regionalising shows will massively dilute those connections about which we’re so passionate”.

She continued: “In each area we have built up a relationship between all the elements of our local music scenes. This would be pulled apart if shows were subsumed into a vast regional area. But you can help! We have all received deep expressions of concern from our local musicians, venues, listeners, record labels, promoters, and we share your concerns. So please make your voice heard before it’s too late!”

She urged those concerned about the future of BBC Introducing to communicate that concern via the BBC’s online complaints page.